Photograph by Anne Ackermann
When a child comes into our care, our top priority is to find them a family – it’s what drives our social workers to trace tirelessly for any relatives, and our adoption team to make sure we have a plan B and find Ugandan adoptive families.
We like to make videos (it’s something we do to share our story with you) but by producing two-minute videos we do a disservice to our social work team because we don’t show you how complex our work really is.
Social work is critically important. Social workers around the world keep children safe from harm. One bad assessment could mean death. Babies come to us abandoned, abused and left for dead and it is our duty to make sure we make the right decisions as they have been failed by everyone else.
This is Priscilla’s story:
Priscilla was admitted to Malaika one rainy November morning. Her story was complicated. Her mother was unable to care for her because of mental health difficulties and her father was in jail. The future didn’t look particularly bright for this little girl.
Over the time she was in our care she really thrived. She gained weight and developed a mesmerising smile.
All the while behind the scenes our social workers traced tirelessly in the hope of tracking down her extended family. One day they had a breakthrough. They had managed to locate the father’s family – grandparents, aunts and uncles living in a small village. The social worker in charge of Priscilla’s case, Lenah, wasted no time and set off to meet them.
When Lenah arrived she was greeted by Priscilla’s grandfather. He was pleased to hear about the child but felt he could not support her. “We have very little”, he said “surely the child would be better off in the babies home where you have nice things.”
This is a common conversation for the social workers, in a country where the work we are doing is not the norm. Lenah explained that what children need above all else is the security and care of a loving family. That this is what will make the difference between life in an institution, and the healthy bonds, security and sense of identity that come from a loving family. She explained that, as long as the family had the needs to provide a safe and healthy life for Priscilla, this would be the best place for her.
Another heart and mind was changed that day, and the grandfather agreed to care for Priscilla with her grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. Ugandan families are big and tight-knit, and this community began to prepare to receive a new relative.
Over the months that followed Lenah guided Priscilla and her family through a careful bonding plan, to make sure that she accepted her relatives and felt safe with them, then, a few weeks ago came the day that Priscilla would go to live with her family forever.
As the car pulled up, Priscilla’s relatives and members of the community rushed to meet her. As her grandfather scooped her up into his arms, she smiled happily. She played and cuddled with her cousins.
The following morning when it was time to say goodbye to her social worker there were no tears from Priscilla.
‘This makes it all worthwhile’, said Lenah, ‘knowing she will be happy and loved’.
She is right – no amount of hard work is too much if the result is a child finding their place in a loving family, having a second chance at life and a future. Hard to believe this is the same little girl who was rescued six months ago.
Thank you for helping us transform another child’s life forever